The recent wildfires in the area have strained the budgets of many rural fire departments but officials do not yet have an estimate for expenses and losses for the departments.


The recent wildfires in the area have strained the budgets of many rural fire departments but officials do not yet have an estimate for expenses and losses for the departments.

Officials are also not sure what kind of assistance, if any, the departments will get from the state.

“We won’t know if we get anything until they get back in session,” Pottawatomie County’s rural fire coordinator Paul Simpson said. “That’s going to be up to the legislators.”

Legislators usually assist the fire departments when there is a strain on their budgets but Simpson does not know if they have any plans to address the issue yet.

“It will probably be after February if they even look at doing something like that,” Simpson said.

The toll of the wildfires on rural departments has not been estimated yet because some areas are still in fire season, Simpson said.

The departments are currently getting a break from the fires because of a reprieve in the extremely dry conditions due to recent storms.  However, the Oklahoma State Climatological Survey is predicting a return to dry conditions, which will also determine

what kind of assistance departments will receive from the state, Simpson said.

Simpson predicts fire departments will be busier because of dry conditions and the fact that the state is starting to see below freezing temperatures, which means foliage will start to die and dry up even more.

Most of the problems from the wildfires are a daily maintenance issue for departments but there is not an estimate on total losses at this point, Simpson said.

Macomb has had about 195 calls for the year so far, Fire Chief Richard Baker said.

Macomb is an all-volunteer department and the wildfires have had an impact on their budget but they are in decent shape financially. Funding from the county helps, Baker said.

“It helps pay the fuel bill and maintenance and repairs,” he said.

Two of Macomb’s fire trucks are in need of front-end repairs’ one needs a new engine, which will put it out of commission. The department does have the funding for the work, Baker said.

Macomb has lost a couple of abandoned trailer homes in wildfires, but not any structures that were in use, Baker said.
Macomb has 17 firefighters on staff.